How Do We Do It?
27 September 2009
During the trip I have had a few emails asking how we get our weather and other information whilst at sea. It is really quite easy with modern technology - all you need is an email facility, either via HF/SSB radio and a Pactor modem or via the email facility that you get free with an Iridium satellite telephone.
There is a service called "Saildocs", which is basically an Internet site that you send an email to, requesting certain documents, and the server then sends you the requested document back to your email address for you to download. "Saildocs" call themselves "for the bandwidth impaired", and they are just that. The service is free and from it you can request GRIB files (computer generated weather files) and a host of other weather related files from around the world.
For instance, we have just had the development of TD8, a few hundred miles west of the Cape Verde Islands. I found this out by sending a request to Saildocs for document ABNT20.KNHC, which is the Tropical Weather Outlook file and is updated by the US National Hurricane Centre in Miami, every 6 hours during the hurricane season. On receiving this document I could see that TD8 had formed and that it had been allocated a separate report, WTNT23.KNHC. I then requested that report and have all the information to track and follow the TD. It also gets updated every six hours and thus, I will be requesting the document three or four times a day until the storm is no longer a threat to us.
To find out more about Saildocs and the information available, send an email to email@example.com and see what it returns - follow the instructions and you will have a lot of info at your fingertips. Rob and Goltz, hope this information helps with your forthcoming trans-Atlantic trip.
Now, back to life aboard A4001. We knew from report from boat up ahead of us that we would experience periods of no or little wind. We have a deadline to reach Annapolis and our intention is to make the deadline, although we are cutting it rather fine due to the delays off the African coast. We have hit our first "light and variable" period. The sea is flat with just a little ripple on it and we have our "iron spinnakers" working at full throttle. Due to there being no wind, it is also HOT but with the flat sea we have all the hatches open and get a good flow of air through the boat. As we progress north, we should also start experiencing cooler airs, which we are all looking forward to. Remember, we come from a cold southern African winter and the heat and humidity of the tropics is a bit of a shock to our systems!
Between the Brazilian coast and Barbados we had seven swallows spend one night on board. They all sat in the rigging and were gone at first light the next morning. We are now a few hundred miles off the US east coast and have had another swallow come to rest on the boat. From the above photo, you will see that he/she is a friendly little fella and took to Hardy quite happily. Let's hope the little fella survives as I once had five on board on our way to Tahiti. Unfortunately, we had to bury them all at sea.
Regards from the three of us - Hardy, Andries and myself, John.